Thursday, 30 December 2010

HBIC YIR - Part One

Time certainly has flown this year as we're two days away from recycling those 2010 calendars hanging on walls and posted on desks. Hockey has seen some great things this year, and we've also lost some icons that made the sport much better with their presence. We've seen players emerge as superstars and we've seen superstars fall to below-average play. All of this is actually a statement about the game - it's fluid, and it's constantly changing and evolving through each shift, each game, and each season. Today, HBIC looks back on the first six months of the year, and the important stories that came from January to the end of June.

January Highlights
  • January 1: We start every year off right with the NHL's Winter Classic, and the January 1, 2010 game was certainly memorable as the Philadelphia Flyers visited the Boston Bruins in historic Fenway Park. What a great day of hockey!
  • January 2: Switzerland's World Junior Championship team pulls off a massive upset as they defeated Russia 3-2 to beat the Russians for the first time in history at the WJC.
  • January 5: The 2010 World Junior Championship is decided in overtime as American John Carlson ends Canada's streak with his goal to give Team USA the gold medal. Great game, and a very impressive showing by America's best young hockey talent.
  • January 21: If you've been following this blog, you know I'm a big fan of Frank McClelland's newest equipment invention. January 21 was the first time I was lucky enough to speak to Frank and bring to light what would eventually be his Skate Fenders product. A very interesting story to see how the plastic skate guards got started!
  • January 23: I arrive in Minneapolis for the US Pond Hockey Championships, and the weather was very un-winter for the tournament. Strange weather is nothing new on the prairies, but January is rarely a month known for rain. Great uniforms seen at the tournament, and a few great stories!
  • January 25: I express my disappointment with the NHL's stance on protecting its players after a major incident in the QMJHL.
  • January 29: I bring to light the story of Alton White, the first professional black hockey player to record 20 or more goals in a season as well as the first professional black hockey player to record a hat trick in a professional game. Since it happened in the WHA, no one seems to care that he doesn't get this recognition. But I do.
February Highlights
  • February 5: The hockey world stops for a few moments to grieve the loss of Brendan Burke, Brian Burke's son. Brendan worked as student manager for the hockey team while attending the University of Miami (Ohio), but made headlines when he announced to the world that he was a gay man. And I still believe in my words: "Being gay doesn't change who he is or how much respect I have for him. Nor should it change you."
  • February 13: Phil Hecken of Uni Watch Blog and I take a look at what each team will be wearing at the Olympics. Some uniforms are good. Others are not.
  • February 14: I discuss some of the ways that women's hockey at the Olympics can fix blowouts between the elite teams and the rest of the field. I still feel that getting more women involved from the other countries will make the game stronger.
  • February 21: Team USA plays a much more complete game in the round-robin at the Olympics and beats Canada soundly. I'm hard on Canada and praise the Americans. And this will only set up the inevitable.
  • February 28: The Goal. Need I say anything more? I take a look at the 2010 Winter Olympics as a whole, and celebrate "The Goal.
March Highlights
  • March 4: Frank McClelland returns with some updates on his Skate Fenders. I'm truly a fan of Mr. McClelland's and LSSU's work, and this product is something that players should really look into for their own health.
  • March 11: HBIC renews its commitment to the Vancouver Olympics by giving the sport of sledge hockey as much coverage as possible. I really like this sport, and there have been some excellent games as of late as a number of countries have improved in this sport.
  • March 18: One of the countries that has improved? Japan. They defeated the heavily-favoured Canadian squad by a 3-1 score in the semi-final to earn a berth in the gold medal final. If you haven't seen a game of sledge hockey in your life, you're missing out.
  • March 21: The 2010 Women's Frozen Four wrapped up in style as there were some incredible games played by the NCAA women. Congratulations go out to the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs who captured their fifth NCAA Championship!
  • March 30: The 2010 CIS Men's Hockey Championship wrapped up, and the Canadian collegiate champions are the Saint Mary's Huskies! Canadian collegiate hockey, while not as prolific as NCAA hockey, is certainly one of the places where NHL teams can find some hidden talent. There are lots of good players studying across Canada!
April Highlights

May Highlights
  • May 3: The KHL crowns a champion as Ak Bars Kazan won their second KHL Championship in consecutive seasons. While there are still major differences between the NHL and KHL, it appears that Kazan is becoming the "Detroit Red Wings" of the KHL.
  • May 7: I found a great article in Popular Science from 1935 about the game of hockey! It's a very good read with lots of pictures, but it goes to show that some magazines were covering hockey before it was popular!
  • May 14: A reader by the name of Chelsea sent me a great email about head trauma suffered by hockey players. She makes some excellent points in her email, and there are several NHL players who echo her sentiments.
  • May 23: The Czech Republic snaps the Russian's 27-game winning streak at the World Championships, and captured the World Championship title! Jaromir Jagr's reason for winning? "They had stars and we had guys who play in the Czech Republic, but this shows that talent doesn't matter - you have to work hard." Hard work, kids. I can't say it enough.
  • May 25: I still have no clue as to what happened to the Charlie Conacher Memorial Trophy that was awarded annually to an NHL player. Any ideas?
  • May 28: Damian Cox goes absolutely loopy with his suggestion that the Chicago Blackhawks change their logo because it's offensive. Cox stirring the pot? Nothing new.
June Highlights
So there are the highlights from the first six months of HBIC's 2010. I really had a great time writing this year, and the interactions with you, the readers, are what makes this so rewarding. I love reading other opinions and ideas, and I encourage you to continue to email, comment, friend me on Facebook, and whatever else you to do to send me your hockey thoughts.

More tomorrow as we review the year that was from July to December!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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